September 16, 2007
Will the federal moratorium on Calfornia executions end this decade?
As detailed here, California has over 650 defendants on death row (nearly twice as many as any other state). But as detailed in a set of article How Appealing notes here, the defendants need not fear being executed anytime soon: a federal district judge seems to be in no rush to lift the moratorium on executions he imposed because of constitutional concerns over the state's lethal injection protocol. Here are the basics from this Los Angeles Times article:
A federal judge Friday postponed a major hearing on the state's new lethal injection protocol, making it highly likely that a court-ordered moratorium on executions in California will stretch to at least two years. U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose pushed the hearing back from Oct. 1 to Dec. 10 and 11. The judge also scheduled a formal visit Nov. 19 to a new death chamber under construction by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The delay of the hearing all but ensures that Judge Fogel won't rule on the merits until next year, and then an appeal to the Ninth Circuit seems inevitable no matter how Judge Fogel rules. Given that capital cases have a way of taking years to be fully resolved by the Ninth Circuit, I would be surprised in California is allowed to execute anyone before, say, 2011.